We all read the papers and watch the news and hear criminal legal terms that we do not truly understand……read this and then you will…

By Dale Gribow

Part 2

Impeachment: The process of calling a witness’s testimony into doubt.

In camera: In a judge’s chambers outside the presence of a jury and the public.

Information: A formal accusation by a government attorney that the defendant committed a crime.

Judge: Determines guilt or innocence in a non-jury trial.

Jurisdiction: The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a certain type of case.

Jury: The group of persons selected to hear the evidence in a trial and render a verdict.

Misdemeanor: A criminal offense punishable by at least one year of prison.

Mistrial: Caused by fundamental error requiring the trial to start again with a new jury.

Nolo contendere: Also called No Contest. This plea has the same effect as a plea of guilty but may not be considered as an admission of guilt for any other purpose. It is not accepted in the Indio Court.

Parole: The release of a prison inmate after the inmate has completed part of his or her sentence in prison.

Plea: The defendant’s statement pleading "guilty" or "not guilty" to the charges.

Pretrial conference: A meeting of the judge and lawyers to plan the trial, to discuss which matters should be presented to the jury, to review proposed evidence and witnesses, and to set a trial schedule. Typically, the judge, the Indio DA and the parties also discuss the possibility of settlement of the case.

Pro per: A slang expression sometimes used to refer to a pro se litigant. It is a corruption of the Latin phrase "in propria persona." In Indio the judge will appoint a Public Defender.

Pro se: Representing oneself.

Pro tem: A Temporary. I have had the honor of wearing a robe for the day on several occasions and deciding cases.

Probation: A Sentencing option where instead of sending an individual to prison, the court releases the person to the community and orders him or her to complete a period of supervision monitored by the probation department to abide by certain conditions.

Probation officer: Officers of the probation office of a court.

Record: A written account of all the proceedings and evidence in a case.

Sentence: The punishment ordered by a court.

Sentencing guidelines: A set of rules and principles judges use to sentence a defendant.

Statute of limitations: The time within which a criminal prosecution must begin.

Subpoena: A command, issued under a court’s authority, to a witness to appear and give testimony.

Verdict: The decision of a jury or judge.

Voir dire: Jury selection process. Many trial lawyers believe a case is won or lost at this stage. Consider the OJ Simpson trial where many believe OJ would have been found guilty if the trial was in the Santa Monica Superior Court which was the correct court for a crime in that area of town. It was not available because of the earthquake damage. Many believe the LA Jury utilized Jury Nullification where they did not follow the law but instead ruled to make up for all the perceived bad decision against African Americans in the past.

Warrant: Court authorization to search or arrest.

Witness: A person called to give testimony.


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If you have ideas for future article contact Dale Gribow 760-565-0533.

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